Although Kia Motors UK is growing fast, its sales this year are expected to amount to 33,000 units, a third of the 2008 target which forms part of plans by Kia Motors Europe to occupy 3% of the European market by that date. The goal, if achieved, would put it ahead of manufacturers such as Hyundai, Toyota and Suzuki in the UK.
Paul Williams, Kia UK’s energetic managing director, argues it is possible because of three things – an expanded dealer network; Kia’s new Slovakian factory, due to open in 2006, producing 200,000 cars in its first year; and consumers more concerned about value over brand, which he terms “Smart Value”.
He explains: “A lot of people are prepared to look beyond the brand. Consumers love the no-frills airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair because they save them money they can spend on what they really want to spend it on. We’re offering them exactly what they want and none of the things that cost more but don’t really matter to them. They can buy a great value Kia and they know it does exactly what it says on the tin.”
On the subject of where these buyers will come from Williams says: “We’ll get our business from everybody. We’ll find customers wherever they are to be found.”
The arrival of the new Sportage SUV next January will strengthen the Kia’s product portfolio, which currently comprises of Picanto, Rio, Sorento, Carens and Sedona MPV. Williams next move is to increase the dealer network, currently 144 outlets, to 155 by the end of the year, and to 180 by 2008. He says talks are ongoing with a number of major dealer groups.